Overall it's hard to fault the defense too much for what transpired in Sunday's game. Stopping Steven Jackson was the one poor demonstration, but otherwise they got good pressure and rendered A.J. Feeley mostly useless. Poor tackling, lack of speed sideline to sideline, inability getting off blocks and mental mistakes were all still showcased in this game, though, so there's a lot to repair. Still, 21 Rams points were either scored or set up by miscues elsewhere, so even with Jackson gashing the Saints' D at will it's hard to point fingers at them too much. The Special Teams performance was horrid. By far the worst showing of the season. Besides Morstead there wasn't a lot of positives. On to the grades...Will Smith: A- (2.83) A pretty dominant showing by Smith actually. The Rams really struggled to contain him and he was good both against the run and the pass. He did make a mistake one of Jackson's big runs, though, and he broke containment over pursuing the back end before getting victimized on an end around. The Rams tried to get him later in the game on the same play and that time he contained well but was too slow in pursuit. He had 5 tackles, 2 sacks, and was in Feeley's face frequently.
Cameron Jordan: C- (2.33) He was pushed around and didn't help the Saints' cause at all. He did a poor job of creating pressure which is becoming pretty customary, but even his run support was disappointing in this one.
Junior Galette: D (2.13) Pretty awful showing by Galette who at one point got flagged twice for illegal use of the hands on the same drive. His run support was atrocious. He did get some penetration on pass plays, but that was negated by his mental mistakes. He finished with one QB knock down after the throw, getting nice pressure and putting a decent hit on A.J. Feeley.
Sedrick Ellis: D (2.04) He finished with no tackles and was completely invisible out there. This guy is supposed to be the Saints' first round star defensive tackle and as Ralph Malbrough keeps saying, it's becoming more and more evident that he's "just a guy". Maybe his ankle isn't quite healed up but it was noticeable that his performance wasn't up to snuff.
Aubrayo Franklin: C+ (2.00) He did an ok job of moving the pile and he got some penetration on running plays. He finished with 2 tackles. Still it was once again a largely underwhelming performance by a player that was supposed to give the defense a huge boost.
Shaun Rogers: B (2.09) He was active as I've seen him this season. He was decent against the run, looked quick, and was beating interior linemen a good amount with his first move. He finished with 3 tackles and looked pretty good out there. That's two straight pretty promising games from Rogers.
Tom Johnson: B- (2.59) He had a defended pass on a tip, a QB knockdown, and a tackle. He's a solid reserve tackle and I can see why the Saints kept him around when he was struggling with calf problems. Honestly, he's playing better in limited reps than some of these guys in extended play.
Scott Shanle: B (2.21) Of the linebackers he was the most sure and often in the right place. He tackled fairly well though he was embarrassed at times by Steven Jackson. Who wasn't? He was tied for the team lead with 6 tackles, including one for a loss. His coverage was mostly solid. His performance the last few weeks has been an improvement over his start of the season.
Jonathan Vilma: B (2.52) He had three tackles, including one for a loss. The main negative is that Vilma was a bit slow sideline to sideline and whiffed on Jackson a couple of times which turned normal runs into big ones. He got off blocks poorly at times and he didn't make plays he made with ease 2-3 years ago. Still, he gets a big boost for recovering a fumble in the end zone and scoring a huge touchdown to give the Saints' momentum. He was good in coverage.
Jo-Lonn Dunbar: B- (2.62) Active game for Dunbar who finished with 5 tackles including one for a loss. The loss was a big play where he blew up Jackson for a 5 yard loss. He was decent against the run at times, but he was also lost at other times. Luckily his spotty coverage wasn't victimized thanks to Feeley's lack of accuracy. He had a big mistake over pursuing on the edge on a draw to Jackson which gashed the Saints for a huge gain.
Jonathan Casillas: B- (2.42) All he does is pass rush really, but he did that pretty well again in this game. He finished with 2 tackles, 2 quarterback knock downs, and a tipped ball on a short pass to force a punt. He was disruptive coming off the edge. Unfortunately, he's not really been useful in other departments.
Jabari Greer: C+ (2.54) His tackling was poor and his coverage was solid. He dropped an interception in Saints' territory that the team could have really used. He had 4 tackles.
Tracy Porter: B- (2.50) He was beaten badly on a couple of deep routes and fortunate Feeley wasn't more accurate. He bounced back from that ok and finished with 4 tackles. His coverage for the rest of the game was passable. I will say he was more physical tackling around the line of scrimmage than usual which was good to see.
Patrick Robinson: C (2.67) He was beaten badly on a touchdown pass to Brandon Lloyd and in general he had some trouble covering him. He was fortunate Lloyd dropped a slant pass because he was beaten so badly on that one it could have gone 80 yards for a touchdown. Beyond that, Robinson had decent coverage at times and some good breaks on the ball. He dropped an interception thanks to a great jump but that would've been a tough catch. He did an incredibly impressive job of absorbing Steven Jackson contact and holding him short of a first down on 3rd down. He had 4 tackles and a defended pass.
Malcolm Jenkins: C+ (2.21) A very tough game to grade. There was a lot of great and a lot of bad. Jenkins made a terrific play downfield to break up a long pass after Porter had gotten beat badly. Fantastic center field play there. He also forced the fumble on a blitz/sack that set up the Vilma touchdown. Finally, he made a big play that I've been begging for him to do since the beginning of the season. His tackling in the secondary was poor, and too many times he allowed Steven Jackson to gained bigger yardage once he hit the second level. He was also slow rotating to Lloyd on the touchdown pass. He finished with 6 tackles, a sack, a forced fumble and that defended pass. This game was indicative of his season - very up and down.
Roman Harper: B (1.96) He had 5 tackles and a sack. He wasn't beat in coverage repeatedly like he is in some games. Overall, I thought this was an ok for Harper. Hopefully he can build off this and start to string together some good games in a row here. He tackled ok and actually wrapped up instead of going for the big hit. He limited the damage on some of those big Jackson runs by at least making a stop downfield and preventing him from running even further.
John Kasay: D+ (3.17) His lone field goal attempt was a 49 yarder which he completely missed. I just don't trust this guy outside 45 yards. Inside 45 he's automatic, but it's clear his technique breaks down when he tries to give kicks a little extra juice. He made all three of his extra points but almost missed one, and his onsides kick attempt with 6 seconds left, while meaningless, was atrocious.
Thomas Morstead: A (3.54) He blasted his kickoffs for touchbacks... no shock there. His punting was absolutely outstanding and A+ material. The Rams had no returns, and Morstead averaged 47 yards per kick with 3 inside the 20 and no touchbacks. He had a punt blocked but it's hard to blame him for that. I can't give him an A+ if he gets a punt blocked, though. That was the first blocked punt of his career.
Jonathon Amaya: D- (2.00) He completely whiffed on Robert Quinn which caused the blocked punt. A horrendous attempt at a block there, and that play completely turned the game on it's head. That sequence was a back breaker.
Korey Hall: B (2.84) I'm noticing that this guy is a valuable blocker on special teams and a good physical presence out there. He also came extremely close to blocking a Donnie Jones punt. Almost got a fingertip on it.
My Defensive Player of the Game: Will Smith
My Special Teams Player of the Game: Thomas Morstead